Friday, January 28, 2011

Snorkeling with Sharks?

Somebody just sent me this video.
It is by Jim Barley of the Shark Lab and like many of his productions, it depicts Shark biologists having fun - including plenty of grabbing, petting and riding, of which I'm really not a fan. But that's not the topic.
Check it out.

Didya see it?
If not, watch what unfolds after 1:20 between the Hammerhead and the free diver!
Now, in my book, Great Hammerheads count among the more harmless species: yes older individuals are true submarines - and yet, as anybody who has tried in Tiputa knows all too well, they are normally excruciatingly timid and extremely hard to approach. Also, the attack statistics for this species are both unspectacular and ambiguous. With that in mind, this was just stuff that happens, nothing to get too excited about.

And still, I am very much reminded about what Jeremy wrote here when talking about GWS.

Divers swimming with white sharks do not know what the whites' triggers are since they haven't yet triggered them and if they do they are unlikely to live to tell the tale.
They could be as subtle as a current that the diver is struggling to swim against - I bet (though I'm of course guessing) that white sharks are sophisticated enough to pick up on that and instantly suspect an easy meal.
By the time these divers find out what triggers a gws attack it's going to be too late.

In brief, I just think that snorkeling with large predatory Sharks is essentially stupid.
And despite of what I've said here, this probably applies to free diving as well - and yes I've changed my mind! I fully understand that proficient free diving is an art in itself and not really comparable - but in the end, both snorkelers and free divers will have to get back to the surface where chances are that in the eyes of those large predatory Sharks, they become one thing: potential food.
Especially in baited conditions!

Did I just sense some violent gnashing of teeth from Bolivia? :)
Before anybody gets too excited - as always, this is merely a reflection about commercial vs private Shark diving!
The more I dive with those large Sharks, the more I'm actually impressed by their gentle disposition and tolerance of us intruders - but at the same time, having witnessed their raw power and instinctual reaction to stimuli, the more I'm becoming cautious! Mind you: that doesn't equate frightened! At least on our dive, I've never even remotely experienced any situation where I had the impression that a Shark was sizing me up as potential prey - but still, stuff does happen and ever so often, a Shark will behave in ways requiring great presence of mind, experience and also luck - see the reaction of that free diver in the video.
But that's certainly not what we can generally expect from our customers and certainly not what we want them to personally experience!

Anyway, just a reflection.
Please take it with the usual grain of salt.

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